While Allison Heishman’s Cater Society Fellowship confirmed her passion for the theatre, it also sparked a love affair with Philadelphia, the city she now calls home. Aided by professor and mentor Michele Volansky ’90, Heishman used her Cater grant to fund a summer internship with the Philadelphia Theatre Company, where Volansky was literary manager and dramaturg. There, she worked with Company Manager and Casting Director Lois Kitz in the casting and literary departments, and immersed herself in the artistic life of the city.
“Lois took me to see a Pig Iron Theatre production of a play called Shut Eye,” Heishman recalls. “It was magnificent, the biggest ‘this is where I want to be’ moments of my young career.”
After graduation, Heishman drew upon her new Philadelphia connections, her fellowship experience, and a recommendation from Kitz to score an apprenticeship with the Walnut Street Theatre. Now, 15 years later, she is the new artistic director for Simpatico Theatre, programming consultant and former associate artistic director of Azuka Theatre, and a recent nominee for the F. Otto Haas Barrymore Award for an Emerging Theatre Artist.
“I have directed over 15 mainstage professional productions here in Philly,” Heishman says, “and it all started with the Cater Society.”
For Heishman, the career path cleared by WC faculty committed to her success was just one piece of the puzzle. “I owe a lot of my success to the doors Michele helped open for me,” she says. “But the Cater Society allowed me to focus on learning, growing, and spending time outside my internship hours with the company, exploring a new city.”
Today that city is at the heart of a community she’s created with both artists and audiences, not just locally but around the world. Her Cater experience shaped what she thought possible. “The Society is worth sustaining,” she says, “because it builds futures.”